Catawba College Draws Scrutiny Over Sexual-Assault Case Against Ex-Coach

Ralph Wager, a popular and successful coach of men’s soccer at Catawba College from 1983 to 1990, is facing criminal charges of sexually molesting two boys on the North Carolina campus, and according to an in-depth report on the case by The Charlotte Observer, prosecutors plan to introduce evidence that the college attempted to cover up the allegations against Mr. Wager.

One of the alleged victims was on a swimming team that practiced in the Catawba pool; he was allegedly assaulted several times between the ages of 9 and 11, in Mr. Wager’s office and his on-campus apartment. The other alleged victim was the son of a college employee.

When the mother of the first alleged victim complained, Mr. Wager was barred from the pool area when the team practiced. When the mother of the second alleged victim complained, the college’s athletic director demanded and received Mr. Wager’s resignation, an abrupt move that raised questions on the campus. The police were not contacted about any of the allegations.

Mr. Wager, who is now 71 and was inducted into Catawba’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, declined to comment. A date has yet to be set for his trial in the case, which is reminiscent of child-sex-abuse scandal that rocked Pennsylvania State University three years ago.

College administrators also declined to comment to the Observer, other than to say they had cooperated with law-enforcement officials and had conducted an internal investigation. The results of that inquiry have not been disclosed.

Fred Corriher, a trustee at the time, said the board was not told. … Asked whether college administrators should have reported the allegations, Corriher said, “Things have changed a lot since those days. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You can say that, ‘Yes, they should have.’ But again I don’t know if it was something that could have been expected.”

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Southern Utah U. Removes Sen. Harry Reid’s Name From Center

Southern Utah University’s president said last week that he had been under pressure from local conservatives to remove Sen. Harry Reid’s name from a center on the campus, the Associated Press reported, but he insisted that politics was not a factor in the decision to do so.

Senator Reid, a Nevada Democrat and the Senate majority leader, is an alumnus of the university, and he agreed to lend his name to the Outdoor Engagement Center three years ago in order to help raise money for it. But several months ago, a group of conservatives told the president, Scott Wyatt, that they had raised $40,000 in pledges to remove Senator Reid’s name from the center.

Mr. Wyatt said he had told the group he would not accept the money. But the week before last, the name was removed—because, Mr. Wyatt said, it led to confusion over the center’s purpose since Mr. Reid is not associated with the outdoors. Mr. Wyatt also said that the center’s naming for Mr. Reid had drawn no donations.

In a statement quoted by the AP, Senator Reid seemed not to object to the removal of his name, saying he’d been “happy” to let the university use it to raise money. But “I’m not going to raise money to have my name placed on anything,” he said.

“The decision has nothing to do with politics,” Wyatt told The Associated Press. “We’re a university. We’re full of Democrats and Republicans and Green Party members and Libertarians. We don’t make partisan calls with regard to our esteemed alumnus.

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Board Chair at N.J. Community College Resigns Amid Ethics Inquiry

Glenn Gavan, chairman of the board of New Jersey’s Sussex County Community College, resigned last week following the release of an external report that found he and two other trustees had conflicts of interest in the hiring of an engineering company for a renovation project on the campus, The Star-Ledger reported. One of the other two trustees, Glen Vetrano, resigned in July. The external report said the three trustees, who never disclosed their relationships with the engineering company, were unaware of their ethical obligations under state law and the college’s code of ethics. Mr. Gavan had been appointed to the board by county lawmakers; Mr. Vetrano and the third trustee, Ed Leppert, had been appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Vetrano was a paid lobbyist for CP Engineers when he voted to give the firm a $142,300 contract for master-plan work last year, the report found. Gavan voted to approve pro-bono work for the firm weeks before becoming their paid attorney in April 2013, and later moved his law practice into the same building as CP Engineers, it also concluded.

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Morgan State U. Professor Gets 3 Years in Prison for Grant Fraud

A professor at Morgan State University has been sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of defrauding the National Science Foundation of grant money, according to the Associated Press and a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore.

A judge also ordered the professor, Manoj Kumar Jha, to pay $105,726 in restitution. According to trial testimony, Mr. Jha fraudulently obtained $200,000 in grant money to finance a highway project and then used the money for personal…


Exasperated College President to Student Protesters: ‘I Resign. Happy?’

(Updated 9:30 p.m., 9/1/2014, with confirmation that the president has resigned.)

The embattled president of Burlington College, Christine Plunkett, had a surprising response to a group of student protesters who crowded around her car on Friday and demanded her resignation:

“I resign. Happy?”

The students, who had been blocking Ms. Plunkett’s car from leaving a Board of Trustees meeting, were shocked to silence but then cheered as she drove away. A spokeswoman for the Vermont college, when asked…


#APSAOnFire: Political Scientists Cope With Fires at Their Meeting’s Hotel

The American Political Science Association’s annual meeting has had a rough couple of years. In 2012 the conference was set to take place in New Orleans, but Hurricane Isaac hit the area and forced the gathering to be called off.

Washington, D.C., the site of this year’s conference, might seem like a safer choice than New Orleans during hurricane season. Alas, the conference’s streak of woes continued early Saturday morning. The Washington Post reported that “a series of suspicious fires” at…


U. of Illinois Sees Growing Criticism of Its Handling of Salaita Case

The chorus of scholars who have criticized the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its decision not to hire Steven G. Salaita grew louder on Friday, when the American Association of University Professors said it was “deeply concerned” about the matter, and another department at the university announced its vote of no confidence in the administration.

Mr. Salaita was offered a tenured professorship in American Indian studies last year, an offer contingent upon approval by the universi…


Judge Upholds $3-Million Award in Chicago State U. Whistle-Blower Case

An Illinois judge has denied the appeal of Chicago State University in a whistle-blower case that is set to cost the university $3-million, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In February a jury found that James Crowley, the university’s former senior legal counsel, had been fired for reporting misconduct by the university’s leadership. The jury awarded Mr. Crowley $2.5-million and ordered that he be given his job back. Later, Judge James P. McCarthy of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., increased…


Higher-Ed Lobby Is Concerned About Red Tape in Democrats’ Reauthorization Bill

The American Council on Education and 20 other higher-education interest groups wrote a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin on Friday expressing concerns about additional regulation proposed in Senate Democrats’ draft plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

“We are concerned that the discussion draft includes a substantial number of new requirements, but does not eliminate any existing ones,” wrote Molly Corbett Broad, the council’s president. “This approach will only serve to exacerbate an already …


Student Debt in Mind, Education Dept. Renegotiates Loan Servicers’ Contracts

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced it had renegotiated its contracts with federal student-loan servicers, giving them more incentives to keep borrowers from defaulting on their loans.

President Obama announced plans to renegotiate the contracts in June, but Friday’s announcement provides more detail. For example, customer-satisfaction surveys will now play a larger role in how the servicers are evaluated, according to a statement from the department.

Student-loan servicers have…